Monday, January 31, 2011

Kids say the darndest...

This morning, Max was playing a Curious George game on the computer. The following conversation ensued and made me chuckle:

Max: "Mom, we don't have a George."
Me: "That's right, we don't. What DO we have? (I'm expecting his reply to involve our dog or our cats).
Max: "Well... we have Dad!"

On my mind...

This entry doesn't really have anything to do with homeschooling, but it's something that's on my mind tonight. Tomorrow is my birthday and I am really not in the mood to observe it this year. To be honest, I feel guilty about observing it... I just want to ignore it. Two and a half weeks ago my sister-in-law passed away, unexpectedly and under suspicious circumstances, and it looks like we may never know exactly what happened. My husband's family is just... reeling. She was only 43 years old, and she had 3 children. My heart absolutely breaks for them. There are so many unanswered questions, and an atmosphere of tension, anger, pain, and sadness hovering over everyone. It just feels completely ridiculous to celebrate a birthday right now, especially knowing that she will not get to celebrate any more birthdays of her own. I know that may be a silly way to think about it, but that's how I'm feeling.

These past couple weeks have left me with a sense of helplessness, in that I want to do something to be helpful and supportive, but... what? I feel unable to offer much in the way of comforting words - every time I hear someone say "It's God's plan" or "Everything happens for a reason" I just cringe. I think that's a load of crap. I simply don't believe in a mythical being in the sky watching over us. I don't know what happens to people when they die. I don't say "You're in my prayers" because that would be a lie - I don't believe in praying, and I also don't believe in lying to people. I care very deeply about my family and I have tried to communicate that to them as much as possible. It's awful to see them all hurting so much. I know that as time passes it will get better, but for now, ugh. No parties please.

Learning to Read

Max learned the alphabet when he was 2, thanks to his obsession with stop signs and other traffic signs. He first learned "S-T-O-P" and then badgered us to identify any other letters he came across until he knew them all. He then gradually learned both his lower-case letters and all of the sounds each letter makes from "Dr. Seuss's ABC Book". It's a fun read with a nice cadence to it that he really likes. I highly recommend it.

One day while Max was in the tub, I started writing some three-letter words on the shower walls with bathtub crayons. I told him to make the sounds of each letter and put the sounds together, and voila, he was sounding out words. It was such an amazing thing to see the "light turning on" as he figured out each one: "Kkh...Ah...Tuh... CAT!!!" It was a fun game for him, and he loved it. This picture was taken about a year ago:

For the past few months, we would occasionally play a simple game at random times; at the breakfast table, in the car, etc. I would just give him a letter from the alphabet and ask him to tell me some words that started with that letter. He got good at it pretty quick. Sometimes, out of the blue, he would say a word and then tell me what letter it started with. For example, "Hey Mom - Bug starts with the letter B!"

Finally this week he showed some interest in figuring out whole sentences. When we were reading before bed the other night, he was making me read slowly and point out each word, and then he would point at each one and repeat. Then, a couple days ago, the big milestone happened: Max read his first book all by himself! It was "Mat", the first book of a "BOB Books" set. (Beginning Readers Set One) Each set is a series of twelve short, simple books that help kids get comfortable with reading - their confidence grows when they discover that they are able to read an entire book all by themselves. The books then get progressively more difficult as the child moves through the series. I have seen them on many "recommended" lists, and I must agree that I'm a fan now too. It was such a joy to hear my child reading and being so excited about it!

This process has definitely helped me grow more confident in my ability to teach my kids at home. I am successfully teaching my son to read! That is so huge. Max is like a sponge, constantly soaking up information, and it has truly not felt like "work" on my part at all. The key is that he learns like crazy when he is both ready and interested. My job is just to figure out what he's ready for and what he's interested in, and provide resources and guidance in that direction. I am so thankful to be able to do this - I feel like I would really be missing out if I had to hand him over to someone else instead of getting to share in this amazing process every day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Awkward conversation that I had tonight

I recently became a consultant for a company called Usborne Books & More (if you are not familiar with their books, they are FANTASTIC! Check them out here.), and I was working a book fair at an elementary school. Afterward, I happened to be walking out at the same time as the principal and we were chatting:

Principal: Do you have any children in school?
Me: I have a 1-year-old and an almost 5-year-old.
Principal: Oh, so the 5-year-old will be starting kindergarten.
Me: Well no, actually we are going to be homeschooling.
Principal: Oh.
*sound effect of crickets chirping*

And that was the end of the conversation. It was a tad awkward - I had to chuckle on the way to my car. Whenever I come out of the educational closet to someone, I always want to throw in, "But I'm not doing it for religious reasons! I'm not one of those "The earth is 6,000 years old" type of homeschoolers! I'm not one of them! I love science and reason!" I feel like that is the general perception of homeschoolers, and while I know there are indeed many who do fit into that category, I am really hoping to find some who are more like-minded to me. I will expand my thoughts on the subject sometime soon, but I'm not quite ready to come out of the spiritual closet yet...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happy New Year!

Ok, it's been way too long. I could use the "too busy because of the holidays" excuse but really I just haven't been inspired to write anything. I have some topics brewing in my head though, and I am going to try harder to write more frequently this year. My new year's resolution is to start getting my toes in the water and begin getting involved with some homeschool groups & activities. If I were sending my son to public school, he would be starting Kindergarten this fall. But as I am rejecting the public school system, I don't really feel the need to wait until Aug. 22nd (or thereabouts) to begin. My state's laws only require that I notify my local school district in writing of my intent to homeschool at the beginning of each school year, but I am a little nervous about that process and will definitely share my experiences with that when the time comes.

One thing that I think everyone does at the beginning of a new year, is to look back over the past year. I remember seeing a friend collecting some of her parenting-related Facebook statuses and posting them together on her blog... I liked the idea so I'm going to do the same thing, just some highlights for myself to remember:

Jan 03- Max & I were dancing to "Twistin' the Night Away" earlier... when it came around again on the playlist he yelled, "COME ON MOM, LET'S TWIST!"
Jan 19 - When I woke up to the baby crying at 4:20am, I was so groggy that my first thought was, "SHHHH! You'll wake the baby!!! Oh. You are the baby. Nevermind.
Jan 22- LOL Max just asked me for "sparkles" on his sugar cookie. (He meant sprinkles)
Jan 31- My favorite Sunday morning activities - drinking coffee, watching "This Old House" on PBS, and oh yeah, Shane made some awesome Raspberry Belgian Waffles! Yum!
Feb 09- I asked Max what he thinks he might like to be when he grows up. His response: "A Jeep!"
Feb 25- Dear Sleep: I miss you so much. Love, Jenny
Feb 27- Today is the 4th Anniversary of the day I became a Mommy. Happy Birthday, Maxwell - I love you so much! I have learned more from you than from any other person on the planet!
Mar 06- Just watched my 4 yr old get his first ice cream headache... he got this puzzled look then started rubbing his face and going "Ow - mah head!" Does the fact that I was LOL-ing mean I'm a bad mother?
Mar 06- Me (tucking Max into bed): "Je t'adore. That's how you say I love you in French. Je t'adore." Max: "Shut da door?"
Mar 22- This evening's entertainment consisted of cheering on the baby while he was trying to roll over onto his belly... it was pretty humorous. He succeeded twice today (first times ever) - GO Emmett!
Mar 26- Max (barely age 4), stalling for a few more minutes before bedtime: "Mom, wait, I need to talk to you." Me: "Ok, what?" Max: "What species of dinosaurs lived in the Jurassic?"
Mar 30- Dear thief who stole my groceries out of my car tonight. F you. Oh, and that little cooler you took from the front seat? I seriously doubt you'll have any use for my breast pump and milk. Thanks a lot A-hole.
Apr 11- My friend's son is here playing Max's Gameboy. He just exclaimed, "Aww this game is awesome, it's like, a frog game!" Yeah - it was Frogger. Feelin kinda old now.
Apr 17- The baby talking gibberish to, and making raspberries at the cat = SO CUTE!
Apr 18- Found us a minivan... Yeaya! Never thought I could be so excited to get a minivan!
Apr 22- Max just told me that he "would be delighted" if I'd make him a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. Some vocab on that kid LOL!
Apr 30- In Super Mario Bros, Max thinks that Bowser (guy at the end of the castle levels) is an ankylosaurus. Today, he got to one of the higher levels where Bowser throws hammers at you. He said, "Oh! That ankylosaurus has TOOLS!"
May 05- Oooohhh... ya know what's worse than having a wasp in the house? Working up the nerve to squish it on the ceiling... SMACK! ...and then it disappears! WHERE THE HECK DID IT GO?
May 17- would really like to meet the person who decided it was a good idea to make car doors that lock automatically when you are driving... and punch them in the face. Hard.
May 20- Max just got a little boo-boo on his toe and was crying... I told Shane maybe I would take Max for some I-C-E C-R-E-A-M (spelled it out) to cheer him up, and he wailed, "Nooooooo I don't want ICE on my boo-boo!" We didn't know he knew how to spell that! LOL
May 26- *sigh* I had to be THAT mom today. You know, the one in the store with the screaming, full-meltdown, tantrum having little kid. Much thanks to the kind stranger who offered to carry the baby to the car for me so I could drag the kicking & screaming 4yr old.
Jun 01- Emmett started crawling on Friday... and this morning I found him standing up in his crib! Somebody tell my baby to slow down - he is growing up way too fast!
Jun 13- Emmett grinned at Shane this morning and said "Da-da" :)
Jun 19- we are going on a vacation from technology... no tv no computer no internet no nuthin. in a few more hrs no cell phone either. should be interesting.
Jun 19- kids r sleepin in the back and we r listening to "life & times of the thunderbolt kid" by bill bryson on cd. (highly recommended) gonna be leaving the country in a few minutes! ttfn usa!
Jul 01- ahhh... one of the simple joys of parenthood... letting Max answer the phone when telemarketers call!
Jul 05- Quote of the night (from Max): "Come on fireworks, why are you takin so long? I havta pee!"
Jul 06- Max, sitting down to breakfast this am: "Ohhh I don't want YOGURT!" Me: "Yeah, you're right. That stuff's gross. You don't want it. Don't you dare eat that." Max: *ornery grin, immediately begins shoveling it in* I'm constantly amazed at how well reverse psychology works on kids! :)
Jul 08- Conversation with Max yesterday - Me: "Oh shoot." Max: "Don't say that Mommy, it's a bad word." Me: "Not it's not, honey, shoot's ok." Max: "Oh. Shit's a bad word, right?" Me: "Yes, that's a bad word and you shouldn't say it." Max: "But you say shit all the time!" So I told him that Mommy's a bad girl and shouldn't say it either. Now he keeps reminding me out of the blue, "Hey Mom, shit's a bad word." Thanks Max.
Jul 20- just noticed a spider right outside my window struggling with a huge moth caught in its web... so I showed it to Max. He said "Oh no! They're fighting?! How can we help them be friends?"
Aug 01- Had such a blast watching the hot air balloons in Canton this morning! Will be posting pics in a bit...
Aug 04- I just scraped the biggest fattest hairiest spider off the bottom of Max's bare foot *shudder*. I think I did a decent job of hiding my horror and revulsion though.
Aug 20- Today was a great day. Life is so good. [note to self: this was the day we went to Preston's Hope playground]
Sep 02- Emmett had his first taste of Swenson's today, and proclaimed it good.
Sep 08- Witnessed the most epic battle between the 4 year old and the 35 year old tonight, involving toy swords and wrestling. I <3 boys!
Sep 13- Watched "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" with Max tonight... he LOVED it - classic!
Oct 05- My little Emmett officially has a favorite food - cheese. If he sees the shredded cheese bag he shrieks until we give him some. Today I gave him a handful of tiny bits of string cheese, and it was like watching a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos - his little hands snatched up all the pieces so fast and stuffed em in like someone was about to steal them away from him! Sigh... a child after my own heart.
Oct 12- I have a wicked crick in the neck after spending the night on the couch with a sick 4yr old. On a related note, is there anything sexier than a man who will clean up large amounts of puke in the middle of the night? Sorry ladies, he's taken and he's all mine.
Oct 14- Emmett was just headbanging to Baby Einstein...
Oct 15- We were sitting at a railroad crossing today watching a train go by, when Max noticed that one of the flashing red lights on the signal was burned out. So I told Max I was calling Sir Topham Hatt and I called the 800 number on the pole to report it. :)
Oct 22- in the waiting room at the drs office with Emmett... he has a rash on his face & body that the receptionist just declared "impressive." hope he's ok...
Oct 26- Ahhh... Afternoon massage. That's when I lay on my stomach on the floor and let the baby crawl all over me.
Oct 30- I have pioneered a new medical technique... it turns out, if you draw a bandaid on a booboo it heals faster than using the conventional method. The patient was giggling uncontrollably before I was done administering treatment!
Nov 06-Happy first birthday to my sweet little ray of sunshine, Emmett. I am so very glad you came to join our family a year ago today. <3
Nov 07- Whew! Emmett's bday party was a success! Managed to squeeze 22 people into my little house without bumping too many elbows. Now I'm gonna have another plate of Shane's amazing baked ziti and take a nap.
Nov 09- Emmett JUST took his first steps! Goooooo Emmett! :)
Nov 12- Emmett has had a lot of firsts in the past week: first birthday, first tooth, first steps, and now - first cold. It is really quite amazing how much stuff can shoot out of that tiny little nose. Poor lil guy.
Nov 14- When I got home from work earlier, Emmett alternately hugged me and vigorously shook his head "no" over and over. I think he was trying to tell me not to leave him ever again. He's so damn cute!
Nov 20- If you have never watched a 4 yr old trying to do a maze while hiccuping, I highly recommend it.
Nov 25- I am thankful for this house that keeps me warm and dry; for the fact that I have food in my cupboard; for my beautiful, healthy babies; for my wonderful husband; for all of my friends and family; and for this fantastic piece of technology called Facebook that lets me connect and re-connect with people in my life. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Nov 29- Received my first kiss from Emmett today. :)
Dec 03- Today Emmett's crawling to walking ratio has shifted. He now realizes he can get around better on two feet than on all fours and is mostly walking. My baby's growing up.
Dec 05- Me: "Max, what should we make for dinner tonight?" Max: "Hmmm... how bout peanut butter jelly, peanut butter jelly, peanut butter jelly and a baseball bat?"
Dec 12- Emmett was talking gibberish this morning, and Shane said, "I think he just said Volkswagen Tiguan!" which is funny cuz that's pretty much exactly what baby gibberish sounds like.
Dec 16- So my mom called while I was in the shower... Max answered and she pretended to be Mrs. Claus. He came running into the bathroom & said, "MOM! I just talked to the Girl Santa!!! I told her I want Supa Mario Wii and Supa Mario Galaxy!" LOL
Dec 24- Just saw 3 deer in our yard - we told Max they were reindeer spies checkin up on him for Santa. Heh heh heh...
Dec 24- As excited as I was for Christmas Day to get here when I was a kid, I'm even more excited now that I'm a mom. Can't wait to watch Max & Em open their presents tomorrow!

TL;DR: Parenthood rocks.